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Am I Truly Saved If I Don't Feel Convicted of My Sin?

How Is Depression Different From Grief or Sadness

Posted October 29, 2021
Suffering

Christians may be tempted to confuse depression with sadness, grief, or discontentment, but there is a huge difference between depression and sadness, grief, discontentment. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “The death of a loved one, loss of a job or the ending of a relationship are difficult experiences for a person to endure. It is normal for feelings of sadness or grief to develop in response to such situations.”

The symptoms of depression include a loss of interests in activities that a person normally would enjoy, changes in appetite, difficulty sleeping or sleeping beyond what is normal, fatigue, slowed movements, slowed speech, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, and suicidal thoughts or thoughts of death.

Discontentment is the failure to be satisfied with one’s status or possessions. In the Bible, discontentment is associated with Israel’s complaints after having been saved from Egypt: they looked at their present situation, liberated from Egypt, as worse than their former bondage (Ex. 16).

Depression is more like the feelings described in Psalm 88. The psalmist writes, “For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves. You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness” (Ps. 88: 3,7, and 18).

Kathryn Green-McCreight in Darkness is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness describes her experiences with bi-polar disorder. She writes, “depression is not just sadness or sorrow. Depression is not just negative thinking… It is being cast to the very end of your tether and, quite frankly, feeling as though you are being dropped…While God certainly can pick up the pieces and put them together in a new way, this can only happen if the depressed brain makes it through an episode to see life among the living.”

This is important to realize because if we fail to recognize these distinctions, we could give a person suffering from depression superficial and simplistic answers that could lead to serious harm—for example, expecting a person to “just stop” struggling with thoughts of suicide or failing to take symptoms seriously could result in that person’s death. If you know of anyone suffering symptoms of depression, you should take it very seriously and avoid giving simple answers or having what may seem like reasonable expectations for a person who is just sad or discontent.


Footnotes

  • https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression.

  • https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression.

  • Kathryn Green-McCreight, Darkness is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness, 6.

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Silverio Gonzalez

Silverio Gonzalez is a husband and father. He earned his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his Master of Divinity from Westminster Seminary California.